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Learn Japanese from the Characters of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

Learn Japanese by Watching JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

If you’ve done even a little research into how long it takes to learn Japanese then you know it’s going to take a little more than an appreciation of good tsukemen to get the job done. It needs to be something that you genuinely enjoy, something so natural you don’t even think about it. Like breathing. We’re talking about a several-thousand hour commitment here, after all.

That calls for something beyond a good textbook or caring teacher. Japanese needs to become a daily habit, but it takes awhile to make a habit: pop culture suggests a month and research says just over two on average. Whatever you do, it needs to be something you can consistently come back to day in and day out until “Japanese time” becomes a fixed part of your routine.

Some people sneak in a podcast during their lunch break, others work through flashcards during their work commute. I decided to use LingQ to make lessons out of one of the greatest anime series of all time, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.

Today I’m going to show you how.

Overview of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures

To put it into a nutshell that doesn’t do justice, this is a very over-the-top, dramatic and bizarre adventure in which Jojo (or his kin) try to impede the diabolical plans of his adopted brother, Dio (or his kin). It begins with an in-house sibling rivalry and eventually grows to encompass the entire world, one step at a time.

There’s really no concise way to explain it so you’re just going to have to head over to Animelon and check the anime out for yourself. While you’re at it, make sure you’ve got the LingQ browser extension enabled so that we can get more out of this anime than a good time.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures Characters

Like in any anime of ridiculous proportions, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure has a ton of characters that tend to both enter and leave the spotlight at unexpected times. With eight seasons spanning two centuries, an entire book could be filled chock-full with flamboyant characters, many simultaneously dashing and clashing. I’ve gathered below a few key ones to help you sort out the chaos you’re about to be dropped into.

 

JoJo
Courtesy of Shueisha

 

Jonathon Joestar, aka JoJo

Our protagonist with a heart of gold is Jonathon Joestar (JoJo), son of the egregiously wealthy George Joestar. Jojo leads what seems to be an idyllic life until his equally noble father takes in a recently-orphaned Dio Brando, whose single-minded pursuit of wealth and power sparks a conflict that lasts for 8 seasons. The entire anime is basically Jojo (and kin) trying to stand up to an indomitable Dio (and kin).  

 

Jojo’s Memorable Phrases

Feel inspired and want to tackle one of Jojo’s heroic quotes yourself? LingQ takes each line from the script and lays it out sentence-by-sentence or paragraph-by-paragraph so that you can follow along, instantly look up unknown words in a dictionary of your choice and then upload these words into an SRS flashcard system for later study. This enables you to reinforce your memory by taking full advantage of context.

Let’s take Jojo’s title quote, for example:

相手が大きいやつだからって負けるとわかっているからって

Even though his opponent is a big guy and he’s sure he can’t win,

紳士は勇気をもって戦わなくてはならない時があるからだぞ。

There are times when a gentleman must be courageous and fight, anyway.

Here are two more quotes for you to take a crack at. If you’re having trouble, pop the episode into LingQ for help breaking Jojo’s speech down.

How does Jojo feel about this girl that he got beaten up over?

知らない子だか僕には戦う理由がある。

Why is Jojo risking his life in the slums of London?

僕には指四本など失ってもいい理由がある。

それは父を守るため家を守るため。

君らとは戦う動機の格が違うんだ!

 

Dio Brando
Courtesy of Shueisha

 

Dio Brando, aka Dio

Dio Brando, our antagonist, was born to a broke and abusive father who won the gratitude of George Joestar by saving a family relic (which turned out to be a lie). Years later, Dio is taken in by the Joestar family upon his father’s death. Dio is a cunning megalomaniac who schemes to become the sole heir of the Joestar fortune, becomes an immortal vampire after putting on an ancient stone mask and later sets his sights on the world. Jojo’s arch rival, Dio is the source of conflict driving the anime forwards.

 

Dio Brando’s Memorable Phrases

Let’s take a stab at that quote from Dio:

俺は人間をやめるぞ、ジョジョ!俺は人間を超越する!

I quit being human, Jojo! I will transcend (being human)!

While we’re at it, here’s a few more:

On the off-chance that you’re wondering whether or not Dio is a team player, here is how he responds when asked

about his (childhood) relationship with Jojo:

友情だった?綺麗事を並べてにこにこするなよな、クズどもが!

What was Dio’s father’s dying wish for him, and how did Dio feel about that?

一番のお金持ちになれだと(言っているかい)?ああなってやるとも。

利用できるものは何でも利用してやる。このジョースターとかいう貴族も。

 

Speedwagon
Courtesy of Shueisha

 

Speedwagon

Speedwagon, despite being a thug from the slums, has an eye (or perhaps a nose) for character and is not a crook to his core. He enters the series with an initial intent of robbing Jojo but was so impressed by how Jojo carried himself that he underwent a change of heart. Speedwagon calls off the mugging and begins to accompany Jojo, becoming a loyal companion.

 

Speedwagon’s Memorable Phrases

Let’s borrow that match Speedwagon is holding to shine a bit of light on this line of his:

俺ぁ生まれてからずっと暗黒街で生き、いろんな悪党を見てきた

I’ve lived in the underworld ever since I was born, coming across all sorts of scoundrels,
だから悪い人間といい人間の区別は匂いでわかる。こいつはくせぇ!
So I can tell a good man from a wicked one just by the way they smell. This one’s rotten! (Dio).

So, we know that Speedwagon doesn’t care much for Dio. But what does he have to say about Jojo?
(ジョジョの)父親の精神は、無底のジョナサン・ジョースターが立派に受け継いでいる。それは彼の強い意志となり誇りとなり未来となるだろうぜ。

Or, perhaps, this entire adventure itself?

人の出会いってのは運命で決められてるのかもしれねぇな

 

Zeppi
Courtesy of Shueisha

 

Zepelli

Zepelli is an eccentric Italian with a taste for wine and sandwiches who, after watching everyone he knew and loved being killed by a vampire, has devoted his life to seeking and destroying the stone mask which Dio took his power from. Along his journey he received training and mastered a meditative martial art known as The Ripple which he uses to combat vampires and zombies. Zeppeli becomes a teacher for Jojo, helping him gain the skills he will need to fight Dio.

 

Zepelli’s Memorable Phrases

Let’s make a ripple of our own by breaking that title quote down with LingQ:

勇気とは怖さを知ること恐怖を我が物とすることじゃ!
Courage comes from knowing fear – from conquering it and making it your own!

Now, why in the world would an eccentric baron want to partner up with Jojo? Let’s see:
私は何十年もあの石仮面を探している、石仮面を破壊するために!
石仮面を被った者を倒すために!

And what, furthermore, is the difference between the power that Dio and Zeppelin wield?
波紋エネルギーは自分の血液の流れから生み出すもの。対して石仮面は他人の血液からエネルギを吸い取る。形は表と裏同じエネルギーだったのだ。

 

Listening and reading to the dialogue

Whether it’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure or any other content that peaks your interest, you can use LingQ to help you study.

As mentioned  above, LingQ allows you to import your favorite content and create interactive lessons. Below is a screenshot of LingQ’s mobile app (Android and iOS). Take your content anywhere you go, look up words, listen to the audio, save your words, and much more.

LingQ

 

And of course, you can learn using LingQ’s desktop:

 

LingQ

To learn more about importing, check out this guide.

A major critique of using anime as a method to learn Japanese is the misunderstanding that simply watching a lot of anime (or drama, or NHK, or movies, or any Japanese media content) is going to make you fluent. The problem isn’t so much that there isn’t a lot to learn from resources like these but rather that many people simply aren’t at a stage of proficiency where they’re ready for them.

If I lost you there, let’s liken learning Japanese to building strength via weightlifting for a moment. While it’s true, for example, that lifting a 200 pound weight will build more muscle than a 20 pound one, it takes a certain… power level… to use that 200 pound weight in the first place. You can’t build muscle with a weight too heavy for you to lift.

Similarly, if you aren’t at a certain level of proficiency in Japanese, you’re going to lean too heavily on subtitles to make sense of what you’re watching. If you’d like to use anime as a learning resource, you have two options:

Wait until your Japanese improves or…

Bring the anime down to a level that’s more manageable.